Roy Halladay a reason to believe in mediocre Phillies

Roy Halladay says he is "excited about what could be and what could happen." RICH SCHULTZ / Getty
Roy Halladay says he is "excited about what could be and what could happen." RICH SCHULTZ / Getty
Posted: June 07, 2013

It takes some searching for the Phillies organization to find a reason to believe, really believe, these days. There are games here and there that are uplifting, and individual accomplishments, like Domonic Brown's hot month and Cole Hamels' good start on Wednesday, that can brighten the darkness of a mediocre record.

But to believe that the remainder of the season might hold far better things than those that have taken place so far takes some faith and some serious searching.

Before Wednesday's game, in the late-morning sun while the groundskeepers prepared the diamond, a 6-foot-6 reason to believe sat in the home dugout and said he will pitch again this season, and he expects to pitch very well.

By the standards of Roy Halladay, it takes a lot to pitch well, but if he believes, maybe the organization will take the same leap of faith. While the Phillies decide whether to be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline, while they wait to see if Chase Utley and Carlos Ruiz can both enjoy a productive return from injury, maybe it's worth waiting to see what really remains of Roy Halladay.

"We're optimistic, but there is a long way to go," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "We know that no one is going to give themselves a better chance than Roy will. He's got the makeup to see it through, and an effective Roy Halladay would make a big difference for us."

No one is trying to fool anyone here. Halladay is 36 years old and coming off surgery to repair a frayed labrum and rotator cuff in his right shoulder. In the same procedure, there was a bone spur that needed to be shaved and an inflamed bursa sac behind his shoulder that had hardened into an unyielding mass and was removed.

Now in his 19th season of professional baseball, the toll of more than 500 games and 3,000 innings was apparent. Halladay's shoulder was a mess, and had been for most of the last two years. He worked through it, pitched through it, and ultimately it failed him. He couldn't get his arm to reach the position he needed, and in fighting to compensate for that, he hurt himself.

Can one surgery fix everything? Halladay has to think so. That is his job. The Phillies' front office has to be more skeptical. That is their job.

"My range of motion is better than it has been at any point since I've been here," Halladay said. "Once they took [the bursa] out, I had the surgery on Wednesday and got to the facility on Monday, and they tested my range of motion, and it was better than it was when they tested it in spring training. It made a huge difference."

Halladay understands it might not be a straight line from the Florida workouts he will resume following his Tuesday examination by Michael Ciccotti, the team's director of medical services, to getting back on the mound in Citizens Bank Park. There will probably be a diversion or two from that path.

"I'm excited about what could be and what could happen and very cautious about looking too far down the road and predicting too much, because there's a lot still to be done," Halladay said. "It was really a grind over the last couple of years just getting that flexibility back and getting my arm in the spot that I wanted to get it in, and I had that five days after surgery. So I am excited."

With a healthy Halladay back in the rotation, the Phillies would have a legitimate reason to believe that 2013 represents something more than a sad last gasp for the core that carried the team through some pretty good years. If the Phils can hang around .500 with the injuries and bad breaks they have endured so far, perhaps the organization could be forgiven for hoping some better luck might put the team in contention.

Halladay will make them pay attention, that much is for sure. He will do the work and believe in the payoff, and, if that is his approach, he will even understand if it doesn't work out.

"One way or another, [I'm] fine with it. To do something the best you can do it and work as long as you can and prepare as long as you can, you don't worry about the things you can't control," Halladay said. "Whether it was the end of my career or turned my career around, I was going to be OK with that."

A lot has to go right for the Phillies to earn the confidence of the front office and transform a potential trade-deadline selling spree into something else entirely. It is much more than just one pitcher.

But he is a reason to believe, and as he left the home dugout before Wednesday's game, Roy Halladay looked out at the field and then headed up the runway to the clubhouse, already thinking of the next thing that had to be done.


Contact Bob Ford at bford@phillynews.com. Follow @bobfordsports on Twitter. Read his blog, "Post Patterns," at www.inquirer.com/postpatterns

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